The Weekender: NCAA Pauses NIL Investigations, Johnny Manziel is Boycotting the Heisman Trophy Ceremony and Notre Dame College is Shutting Down

By 11W Staff on March 3, 2024 at 12:00 pm
Josh Heupel and Nico Iamaleava
Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

Own the group chat with The Weekender, highlighting the biggest stories in college sports, standout writing from Eleven Warriors, and a glance at what’s next.

NCAA Pauses NIL Investigations

After a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on Feb. 23 to the states of Tennessee and Virginia in their lawsuit against the NCAA, which challenged the governing body’s ability to restrict the use of NIL as a recruiting inducement, the NCAA was legally prohibited from enforcing its ban on the use of NIL in recruiting until the completion of the trial.

On Friday, the NCAA paused all NIL investigations, according to the Associated Press.

"In response to this latest order, the Division I Board of Directors directed NCAA enforcement staff to pause and not begin investigations involving third-party participation in NIL-related activities," NCAA President Charlie Baker said. "There will be no penalty for conduct that occurs consistent with the injunction while the injunction is in place.

"I agree with this decision, while the progress toward long-term solutions is underway and while we await discussions with the attorneys general. In circumstances that are less than ideal, this at least gives the membership notice of the board’s direction related to enforcement."

Although the NCAA is pausing NIL investigations, a few policies will still be enforced:

  • Prohibition on pay-for-play, meaning payment for specific athletics performance.
  • Prohibition on direct institutional payment for NIL.
  • The quid pro quo requirement.

It's certainly worth noting that the spring transfer portal in college football opens on April 15 and closes on April 30.

Johnny Manziel Will Boycott Heisman Trophy Ceremony in Support of Reggie Bush

Reggie Bush forfeited his 2005 Heisman Trophy in 2010 after a four-year extra-benefits investigation determined that, while Bush attended USC, he and his family accepted cash, travel expenses and a home in San Diego where Bush's parents lived rent-free for over a year and received $10,000 to furnish. Those impermissible benefits given to Bush back then forced USC to vacate its entire 2005 season because the star running back was not eligible to play, let alone win the award.

Bush's required 10-year disassociation from USC ended in 2020 and ever since then, Bush and his family have been fighting to get the award back, including filing a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA last August.

Now, other Heisman Trophy winners are stating their case in support of Bush. In a tweet on Saturday, Johnny Manziel backed Bush, saying that he will boycott the Heisman Trophy ceremony until gets his trophy back.

While the benefits Bush and his family received were illegal back then, things have changed nearly two decades later with NIL.

Notre Dame College is Closing After Spring Semester

A Division II school in South Euclid, Ohio that was founded in 1922 as an all-women's institution and became a co-ed in 2001, Notre Dame College will close its doors following the current spring semester citing "declining enrollment, a shrinking pool of college-aged students, rising costs and significant debt," the school announced on Thursday.

“Throughout this long process, we evaluated every possible option to continue the mission of Notre Dame College, said Terri Bradford Eason, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Notre Dame College. “Our primary focus has been to ensure our students can successfully continue their education, graduate, and – in the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame – live a life of personal, professional and global responsibility.”

While its enrollment continued to fall over the years and is currently below 2,000 students, NDC has had one of the best football programs in the Mountain East Conference after it began playing football in 2009.

Notre Dame College won four straight conference titles from 2018-21 – a conference record – and went 7-3 in 2023. The program's best season was in 2018, when the Falcons went 10-0 in the regular season and lost to Valdosta State in the semifinals, who eventually went it all. Now, Notre Dame College's players will be forced to transfer elsewhere if they want to continue their playing careers.

With the news coming just three weeks after NDC welcomed its 2024 signing class, Notre Dame College head coach Garrett Mack put in a good word for his 94 players (and 22 new signees).


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What's Next

  • Men's Basketball: vs. Michigan, Today, 4 p.m. (CBS); at Rutgers, Next Sunday, 2 p.m. (BTN)
  • Women's Basketball: at Iowa, Today, 1 p.m. (FOX); Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, Friday, 12:30 p.m. (BTN)
  • 41 Days: Ohio State's spring football game
  • 181 Days: Ohio State football's season opener vs. Akron
  • 272 Days: The Game
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